Nelson Mandela marries Graça Machel on his 80th birthday

Nelson Mandela and Graça Mandela Image source

Saturday, 18 July 1998

Nelson Mandela first married in 1944. He and his wife Evelyn had 2 children and divorced in 1957. A year later, he married Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. Their marriage survived his 27 years in prison, but ended in divorce in 1996. Shortly after his release from prison, Mandela met Graça Machel, the widow of former Mozambican president, Samora Machel.

Apart from her involvement in the Mozambican liberation struggle, Graca Machel is known as an international advocate for women and child rights, and had headed the first United Nations study on the impact of war on children.

The couple decided to tie the knot on Nelson Mandela's 80th birthday. Their marriage was announced at his birthday celebration, which was attended by 2,000 international guests.

• Graighall Wallis, F. (2000) Nuusdagboek: feite en fratse oor 1000 jaar,
BBC News, (1998), Africa Mandela weds on his 80th birthday, 19 July [online], Available at [Accessed: 10 July 2013]

Last updated : 18-Jul-2017

This article was produced by South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011

Support South African History Online

Dear friends of SAHO

South African History Online (SAHO) needs your support.

SAHO is one of the most visited websites in South Africa with over 6 million unique users a year. Our goal is to fulfill our mandate and continue to build, and make accessible, a new people’s history of South Africa and Africa.

Please help us deliver this by contributing upwards of $1.00 a month for the next 12 months.

Make a donation here and send us a message of support.